Green Hills Literary Lantern



Are They Thinking About the Grape?

Francois Boucher, the Chicago Art Institute.

And here is where we pause—

we've left the dark and lacquer

off the stairs, the shadow-head triangular

            and steep, and come to a Boucher:


blond boy pining for girl with a grape.

            They're children, veining into a light,

no further—before our eyes they flirt,

            year after year.                                 


Unlikely, don't you think? 

            After all, the leaves outside, closer

to us and to living, tally our summers,

            tied to our earthly affairs. A siren


wails, cablights zip and unzip nightly;

            our bones, achy gossipers, hazard

onto an edge.

            And who risks the shepherd's linger?


The crowds cringe, beads of creation

            strewn about; a man and a woman

brave each other on a bench.  Once in a while,

            the spare light spares them,


until the world shimmers on.                        

What would it take to tamper with light                                                                  

and be lasting?  

                              Ah, this much we lament—


that someone lost the future of a wish

            and stalled before it,

stalled her purpling grape, the perfect, levied

            wrist—before his finger prodded,


            and his thumb shivered through.




Sofia M. Starnes’s  publications include The Soul's Landscape (Aldrich, 2002; co-winner of the Aldrich Poetry Award); A Commerce of Moments (Pavement Saw Press, 2003; Editor's Choice in the Transcontinental Poetry Book Prize); and Corpus Homini: A Poem for Single Flesh (Wings Press, 2008; winner of the Whitebird Poetry Series Prize). She serves as poetry editor of the Anglican Theological Review. Her homepage may be accessed at